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Anna ii #adventbookclub

Luke 2:36-38 (CEV)

Anna Speaks about the Child Jesus

36 The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died. 37 And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating.

38 At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.

 

But what does it mean?
This coming of light?
Is it all good news?
Do I truly want the light to come?

Light reveals everything,
that we are proud of
and want to highlight;
and those areas we would rather forget
or ignore?

Lord, this Advent
may your light shine in me,
may I see as you see.

Forgive me
where I am not ready,
for the things I’ve been trying to avoid,
when I prefer the dark corners
and what I can hide there.

In your light,
may I see truly what is there,
and in that light
prepare anew for your coming,
then follow
where your light leads.

May I live in light,
in hope,
in love,
in worship,
in praise.

I offer all that I am
to you.

 

Join us reading Walking Backwards to Christmas by Stephen Cottrell from SPCK Publishing this advent.  Be part of #adventbookclub, share your thoughts here, on your own blog (and let us know we’ll link to it), on Twitter using #adventbookclub or on the Adventbookclub Facebook page

 

Make Full Use of God’s Gift

By mattbuck (category) (Own work by mattbuck.) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

You are given a gift, a beautiful gift, something you’ve longed for, something you appreciate how precious it is.  Do you use it for the purpose it is intended, or cling to it safely?

My son gave me some beautiful plates for my birthday.  His wise words to me were,

you don’t have to keep them in a special place – use them

and so I will.  (Though they are beautiful and precious and I am afraid to break them)  What is the point of having something if you don’t use it for it’s intended purpose?

2 Timothy 1:1-14

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.

God himself chose me to be an apostle, and he gave me the promised life that Jesus Christ makes possible.

Timothy, you are like a dear child to me. I pray that God our Father and our Lord Christ Jesus will be kind and merciful to you and will bless you with peace!

Do Not Be Ashamed of the Lord

Night and day I mention you in my prayers. I am always grateful for you, as I pray to the God my ancestors and I have served with a clear conscience. I remember how you cried, and I want to see you, because that will make me truly happy. I also remember the genuine faith of your mother Eunice. Your grandmother Lois had the same sort of faith, and I am sure that you have it as well. So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well. God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control.

Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news.

God saved us and chose us
    to be his holy people.
We did nothing
    to deserve this,
but God planned it
    because he is so kind.
Even before time began
God planned for Christ Jesus
    to show kindness to us.

10 Now Christ Jesus has come
to show us the kindness
    of God.
Christ our Savior defeated death
and brought us
    the good news.
It shines like a light
and offers life
    that never ends.

11 My work is to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher. 12 That’s why I am suffering now. But I am not ashamed! I know the one I have faith in, and I am sure that he can guard until the last day what he has trusted me with. 13 Now follow the example of the correct teaching I gave you, and let the faith and love of Christ Jesus be your model. 14 You have been trusted with a wonderful treasure. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you.

We’re in the season of Harvest Festivals.  The opportunity to pause and thank God for all he gives us. But here we are pointed to the other gifts God gives us.  His treasure in our lives.  Paul reminds Timothy of the three-pronged gift of power, love and self-control (v7).  Power, not in himself, but the power of God in him.  He reminds him,

 You have been trusted with a wonderful treasure

Powerful stuff – but not much use, if you don’t use it.

Paul knows what God has asked of him – and is seeking to do it.  He asks the same of Timothy.  Yes his gift is to be guarded, but also to be used fully.

Gifts…

What gifts has God given me?  What has he given to you?  What is he asking us to do with them?  What wonderful treasure has he given to you that can be used to bring the good news?  To shine light into dark places?

By Zouavman Le Zouave (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We are called to make full use of God’s gift in our lives.  Not to hide them away.  Not to protect them.  That may be risky, but it’s what those gifts are for.

Lord,
we have nothing
that you haven’t given to us first.
Thank you for all your gifts
to me,
those that I don’t deserve,
those it is your joy to give,
things that make my life so rich,
those gifts that enable;
Lord I receive them all.
Thank you for entrusting them to me.
I pray that I will not hide them away,
not fear to use or damage them,
but make full use of them
for you

No Secrets

Hide and seek.  That favourite childhood game of trying to find somewhere where you will never be found.

As adults sometimes we have our own versions of hide and seek.  Trying to find places where no one will find us; hiding from the world; trying to escape; wanting to be left alone; hoping no one has seen our mistake; wanting space; needing somewhere to lick our own wounds.

Yet at other times we want people to notice us, to see our pain, to notice our hurt, to just give us some love or care – and it feels as though no one does.

By Charlesjsharp (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Jeremiah 23:23-29

23 I am everywhere—
both near and far,
24     in heaven and on earth.
There are no secret places
    where you can hide from me.

25 These unfaithful prophets claim that I have given them a dream or a vision, and then they tell lies in my name. 26 But everything they say comes from their own twisted minds. How long can this go on? 27 They tell each other their dreams and try to get my people to reject me, just as their ancestors left me and worshipped Baal. 28 Their dreams and my truth are as different as straw and wheat. But when prophets speak for me, they must say only what I have told them. 29 My words are a powerful fire; they are a hammer that shatters rocks.

I guess it’s both good and bad news that there is nowhere we can hide from God.  There is nowhere he can’t see what we’re doing, he knows what we’re at, what we’re doing, saying and thinking…  He sees those telling lies, those trying to get others to reject him, those worshipping other than him. There are no secrets.

Yet, wherever we are, whatever is happening in our life, God knows and cares very much.  He hasn’t abandoned us.  We’re not left alone to fend for ourselves.  He sees when others mislead us, when they hurt us, when we are damaged.  There are no secrets.

God sees everything – how scary, how comforting.

I know Lord,
that there are no places
where I can hide from you.
Nowhere I can hide
from the wrong I have done,
the hurt I have inflicted,
my rejections of you
and those around me.
And so I come in sorrow
and repentance
to ask for your forgiveness.

I know Lord,
that there are no places
where I can hide from you.
You know where I am,
how I am,
the pains and burdens I am carrying
– you know the reality of my life.
And so I come in thanksgiving
and rest in the reassurance
of your presence.